A new report has found stark differences in media use between minority and white youth. Minority youth ages 8 to 18 consume an average of 13 hours of media content a day, which is about 4.5 hours more than their white counterparts.
The study, by researchers at Northwestern University, found that minority children spend one to two additional hours each day watching TV and videos more than white children, approximately an hour more listening to music, up to an hour and a half more on computers and 30 to 40 minutes more playing video games. A high majority of this demographic also has TV sets in their bedroom.
"In the past decade, the gap between minority and white youth's daily media use has doubled for blacks and quadrupled for Hispanics," said Northwestern professor Ellen Wartella, who directed the study and heads the Center on Media and Human Development in the School of Communication. "The big question is what these disparities mean for our children's health and education."
The only medium for which no difference was found between minority and white youth was reading print for pleasure. Young people in all groups read for pleasure approximately 30 to 40 minutes a day, the study said.
"Our study is not meant to blame parents," Wartella said. "We hope to help parents, educators and policymakers better understand how children’s media use may influence health and educational disparities."
The report also found that minority youth are especially avid adopters of new media, spending about an hour and a half more each day than white youth using their cellphones, iPods and other mobile devices to watch TV and videos, play games and listen to music.
Traditional TV viewing remains the most popular of all media, with black and Hispanic youth consuming an average of more than three hours of live TV daily. TV watched among black youth for about three hours and 23 minutes each day, while Hispanic youth watches it three hours and eight minutes, and Asian youth spends two hours and 28 minutes watching this type of media. White youth watch TV for about two hours and 14 minutes each day.
In addition, black (84 percent) and Hispanic youth (77 percent) are more likely to have TV sets in their bedrooms, compared to white and Asian youth (64 percent). Minorities are also more likely to have cable and premium channels available in their bedrooms.
Trends such as TV sets in bedrooms and eating meals with the TV on often begin at an early age. Black children under age 6 are twice as likely to have a TV in their bedroom as whites and more than twice as likely to go to sleep with the TV on. Black children under 6 are almost three times as likely to eat dinner in front of the TV as white children the same age.